Freudian Slips: A Left-Handed Compliment While Punking a Friend

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

April 12, 2005

A Left-Handed Compliment While Punking a Friend

Tennis anyone?
Dinner with friends can lead to all kinds of trouble. My wife has her share of male friends and I am not a jealous man. Last autumn, Diane came home from happy hour and dinner with friends saying she wagered my tennis skills against a psychologist in a three set match on the court of his choosing. That was the only proposition that went down so I considered it an innocent night out with my wife.
"How much did you bet?" I asked.
My wife set the playing field. "Thirty bucks to you. I got to just take Gunther to dinner if you lose."
"Now those are fighting words. I lose; he gets dinner alone with my wife."
I have such a competitive tenacious nature about myself, the challenge was impossible to turn down. Gunther was equally competitive and a betting man by the likes of it. Before the match was even scheduled, I heard scuttlebutt that he was taking drill lessons at the Cherry Hill Racquet Club. I had thoughts to send out a scout with high powered binoculars. My opponent was a student of conditioning through long distance running and had athleticism in his dossier. I, on the other hand, have coordination. I am like a bull who can balance china in a china shop. But in competition against superior athletes, I needed to rely on my will to win, refusal to lose at all costs.
With Gunther's training and conditioning complete, I tried to set-up the match for Election Day since we both had the day off from work. A staunch republican, Gunther quite frankly had been voicing a little anxiety about the election. This was a guy who spent a week at Ronald Reagan's funeral and bought specially made Bush ketchup from a website to not support the Kerry/Heinz campaign. I figured Election Day might be a good day to play him trying to gain any advantage I could. I envisioned shouting out Ohio's electoral votes going Democratic if the match got close. I called him up at 9am in the morning and he had already been to church and voted Republican, although I am not sure whether he prayed or polled first. He urged me to vote Republican and then and only then did we discuss tennis. As it turned out, we both decided to play the tennis match on the coming Saturday November 6, 2004 at 9:30am at Cherry Hill East High School.
No sooner did I arrive on the court did Gunther announce the winds blowing at an easterly 10-15 mph. My wife warned me Gunther was a hyper guy but if I didn't know any better I swear he was pumped on speed. It was a grueling three set match. I won the first set 6-4 and he complained mightily about the spin I put on the ball as a left-handed player. He clocked me in the second set 1-6.
Thirty dollars and bragging rights came down to the last set. The deciding set went back and forth but I clearly ran out of gas. I carried with me a hundred extra pounds than him on every shot. At one point, I purposely hit the ball over the fence, shouted "Oops" and Gunther chased the ball across the high school parking lot as I bellied over sucking air. If my diseased body recognizes my strain as an emergency, anaphylaxis could happen. But I wanted to win. In the bitter end, Gunther won the last two games decidedly and won the final set 4-6. We walked off the court and shook hands but that is where the practical joke started. May the games begin! If someone is going to beat me in tennis and nearly kill me in the undertaking, I am going to have the last laugh.
Gunther works with my brother and my wife. I knew Gunther would spread it around to all who went out the night the bet was made. So I spoke in confidence to my wife and brother right after the match was decided. I had all the players in line. They reported back to me on my cell phone as my sinister plan unfolded.
The following Monday morning, Gunther winds up sharing an elevator with my brother Jim. They were both going to a treatment team meeting. Before they were even off the elevator Gunther speaks highly of his weekend conquest. To the spoils go the victor. To the joke goes the puppeteer.
"I beat your brother in tennis on Saturday."
"Joe?" he asked coyly. "You didn't beat Joe."
"Oh yes I did. He beat me the first set but I won the next two."
"Let me get this straight. You beat my brother Joe in tennis. There is no way."
"Yes, I just said I beat your brother." asserted the zealot Republican. "Ask him yourself."
"I will and if you beat him I am going to tease Joe like crazy because nobody beats him in tennis."
Jimmy left it alone. Gunther perseverated but Jimmy knew it was too early in the day for him not to bring up the subject again.
In the treatment team room later that morning, Gunther says to my brother. "Why didn't you think I could beat Joe in tennis?"
"It doesn't happen. Wait a minute?" Jimmy changes his posture in his seat. Methodical acting is in the Tornatore blood. "Tell me you didn't bet Joe. Tell me there was nothing on the line?"
"Yeah, I did bet. We bet $30.00, his wife put up the money on his side. Why what's wrong with that? I won fair and square."
"No, you didn't Gunther. Joe pulls this all the time with people who do not know him. He bets low and loses on purpose. Then he'll make a ridiculously high wager later and take your money. I've seen him do it in racquetball, billiards, darts, and bubble hockey. It doesn't matter what sport, the formula is the same."
"I got news for you, Joe was trying as hard as he could. He was huffing and puffing. He was cursing in the end. He wanted to win. I can't be more clear, your brother didn't throw the tennis match with me."
Jimmy let out the hook. "There is only one sure way to tell Gunther. If you were part of a ruse, I guarantee you Joe was playing you left-handed."
It was silent for a couple of seconds then Gunther lost composure. He picked up the telephone and dialed my wife's extension. I told Diane to expect his call and sure enough it was Gunther on the line, who was ballistic by now.
"Diane, tell me the truth. Is your husband left or right handed?"
My wife lied through her teeth to perpetuate the myth. "Right is his dominant hand."
"I don't believe this. Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I told you my sweetie was an athlete. Sometimes against lesser opponents, he will even the playing field and he will play southpaw."
"Why would he spend an afternoon losing to me in tennis unless there was.." he paused. "Does Joe bet on games?"
"If Joe is lining his pockets AND getting exercise I don't know anything about that."
Gunther became defensive. "I can't believe your husband thinks he is going to take me to the cleaners? To fleece me no less."
He haphazardly got off the phone with my wife and peppered my brother with another battery of tests. He made another phone call to someone who watched me play in a racquetball tournament years ago. The same question was asked. "Ambidextrous." the guy replied for some still unknown reason.
It is outstanding folly when you can dupe a psychologist with psychometrics. People who wager on athletic games do not like to be taken to the river in a flim-flam. I wasn't spastic playing racquet sports with my right hand but my left is unanimously my dominant hand bar none.
Gunther calls me and let's me know that Diane will not have to pay him the $30.00. Instead, his courtesy call is to inform me he will be soon dining with my wife at the Creole Café in Williamstown, a charming little restaurant tucked out of the way.
A week later, I left him a telephone message. "Gunther, how about a rematch in tennis? I know you are a gambling man, so what do you say we make it a Ben Franklin this time? There should be a little more at stake if you lose since you proved already to be a better tennis player than me. If you lose, you also got to dump all the Bush ketchup down the drain and register Democrat. Give me a call so we can set something up before the next election."
But the joke ended when friends and family felt sorry for the seething victor. They told Gunther of my left-handed orientation. Too bad. I like a joke to go on as long as it can without hurting anyone. Gunther, you read my Blog from time to time. If you are reading this, recognize that I had the decency of assigning you a pseudonym. I hope you have cooled your jets by now. Remember, winning always has a price with me.

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Blogger Agnesy said...

hi...i stumbled across your website...kinda cool that we share the same penchant for freud's 'freudian slips'..what are the chances anyone will have the same name for their blog as i??? keep well...

6:59 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Great minds think alike. Visit again.

8:39 AM  

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